The American Chemistry Council’s (ACC’s) Plastics Division has announced a set of principles for mass balance certification standards that are designed to trace and help increase plastics recycling as well as support markets for the outputs from advanced plastics recycling. These standards are designed to facilitate recycled content use by U.S. brands and other stakeholders, help them communicate this use to their customers and create additional demand for recycled plastics, the Washington-based ACC says in a news release announcing the standards. Additionally, resin manufacturers recognize that standards for traceability will maximize confidence in advanced plastics recycling and recovery technologies and make them even more attractive to the plastics value chain, the organization says.
“Having consistent, third-party standards and a transparent certification process will ultimately help increase plastic recycling and scale adoption of advanced recycling technologies,” says Craig Cookson, senior director, recycling and recovery, for ACC’s Plastics Division. “Plastics converters, brand owners and retailers will be able to use outputs from advanced plastic recycling technologies with added confidence by relying on these standards for supporting circular economy marketing claims. The flow of molecules through the advanced recycling process and back into the production of plastics, chemicals and fuels should be tracked from start to finish in order to certify recycled content in end products.”
A mass balance approach measures the amount of used plastic that enters advanced recycling processes and makes certain that claims of “recycled content” in the resultant product or package do not exceed that amount. Mass balance previously has been successful in developing high levels of transparency and consumer trust for other materials such as paper and renewable energy, the ACC says.
These principles have received the support of ACC’s Chemical Recycling Alliance (CRA), which represents the leading companies providing technologies in advanced plastics recycling.
“Our members are delivering diverse technology solutions and support a chain of custody tracking system through to the consumer, which will add a level of auditable assurance for our customers,” says Priyanka Bakaya, CEO of Renewlogy, Salt Lake City, and chair of the CRA. “Verifiable standards are important to us and the whole value chain, not just in the U.S. but around the world.”
A few certifying organizations, such as the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC), currently exist, and a number of others have announced their intent to develop standards and certification processes for advanced plastics recycling and recovery, the ACC says. The mass balance approach is likewise supported by organizations such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation CE100, which recently published a white paper on the subject.